Stop Arming Israel: Take Action against HSBC, Saturday 22 August

6 years ago Israel’s aerial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza killed over 2,200 Palestinians, nearly a quarter of them children. Attacking densely populated civilian areas, it destroyed 18,000 residential units, and left over 100,000 Palestinians homeless. Even in the face of widespread condemnation of Israel’s deliberate targeting of civilians by the UN, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others, the UK continues to arm Israel.

Stop Arming Israel Day at the Stop DSEI Week of Action 2019. (Credit: Darren Johnson)

Between 2014-18, the UK issued licences for £364 million of military equipment and technology for export to Israel, as well as 20 secretive ‘open’ licences, allowing unlimited deliveries over 3-5 years. And the UK continues to buy weapons from Israel too, advertised as ‘battle-tested’ – on the Palestinian people. 

CAAT stands in solidarity with Palestinian civil society in their call for an immediate two-way arms embargo to Israel. 

But it’s not just the government which is complicit. HSBC bank invests and provides services worth millions to companies that supply Israel with equipment – including BAE Systems and Raytheon, whose weapons components were used in the attacks in 2014, and Caterpillar, in which HSBC held £99.5 million of shares in 2017. 

Caterpillar sells its bulldozers to the Israeli military knowing they are used to demolish Palestinian homes, factories, agricultural land, and water pipes. It provides equipment used to reinforce the illegal Apartheid Wall, and to build illegal settlements on Palestinian land. 

HSBC’s investment gives these companies the cash and the social licence to continue to support and even profit from human rights abuses. The complicity must end. 

We can use bad PR to shame HSBC into action. It’s worked before – in 2018 HSBC announced it had divested from Israeli arms company Elbit Systems under public pressure. 

TAKE ACTION: Tell HSBC to end its complicity

  • Print out a Stop Arming Israel sign by clicking on one of the images at the bottom of this page or get creative and write your own message.
  • On Saturday 22 August, take a photo of you holding the sign to share on your social media – invite your household, or safely assemble a group if you can, while social distancing.
  • If you have a branch of HSBC near you and you’re able to get there safely, why not take the photo outside the branch?
  • Check PSC’s website for the latest planned photo calls already happening around the UK which you could join.
  • Use the hashtag #StopArmingIsrael and tag @HSBC_UK and @CAATuk 

For any queries on local actions, please contact  lewis.backon@palestinecampaign.org

Thank you for standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people on Stop Arming Israel Day of Action.

Don’t forget to follow the hashtag #stoparmingisrael on Saturday 22 August to see and amplify what’s going on around the UK. Let’s flood social media with our resistance!

Glasgow University continues to support arms companies

In this guest post, David Bloomfield from the Glasgow University Arms Divestment Coalition (GUADC)  provides an update on the campaign against Glasgow University investments in the arms trade. Unfortunately a similar story can be told about universities across the UK. We recommend reading this post as background.

At the end of June, the University of Glasgow decided to retain the bulk of its £3 million worth of investments in some of the world’s largest arms companies, including BAE Systems, Airbus and Boeing.

The decision to keep profiting from the arms trade was made despite a fierce campaign by the student group Glasgow University Arms Divestment Coalition (GUADC) and concerned members of the community. As has been pointed out again and again, weapons produced by the huge arms companies that the University has chosen to invest in have been linked to serious war crimes across the world. The University has publicly proclaimed that ‘#BlackLivesMatter’, but it has refused to accept that the bombs it profits from have been used to kill people around the world.

Continue reading “Glasgow University continues to support arms companies”

Why the UK must stop arming Israel

This week the Israeli government is expected to begin its immoral and illegal annexation of the West Bank. This follows years of increased tensions and atrocities: including shootings at protests on the Gaza border in May 2018.

Reports from health officials in Gaza say that Israeli forces killed at least 214 Palestinians throughout the 2018 protests. Last month Israeli forces killed the nephew of a senior Palestinian official at a checkpoint in the West Bank.

Despite ongoing abuses, and the threat of annexation, UK arms sales to Israel have continued unabated.

Continue reading “Why the UK must stop arming Israel”

Stop Arming Saudi Arabia: to the Supreme Court

Today marks the one year anniversary since we won a landmark victory at the Court of Appeal, challenging the UK’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

As a result of that ruling, we have stopped the export of new weapons for use in the war in Yemen. A multi-billion pound deal to sell more fighter jets to Saudi Arabia remains on hold.

This is significant progress, but there is much more to do. The government is fighting every step of the way to continue the arms sales.  It is appealing to the Supreme Court for a final decision, with the hearing scheduled for 23-25 November.

Meanwhile it has still not complied with the Court of Appeal ruling that it should retake its previous decisions to allow weapons sales, and it is continuing to supply the war in Yemen.

Continue reading “Stop Arming Saudi Arabia: to the Supreme Court”

Racist State Violence: A US and UK Problem

Credit: Victoria Pickering, taken the morning after protests in Washington D.C. on 31st May.

The violent crackdown and use of rubber bullets and CS gas on peaceful protestors in the United States has shone a light on the increased militarisation of the police which is happening around the world. Tear gas, which can cause serious injuries, miscarriage, and even death, is a chemical weapon banned for use in war, yet it is widely used against civilians from Gaza to Minneapolis.

What is the UK’s role in all this?

Since 2010 the UK has licensed £2 million worth of Security and para-military police goods to the US police, and £18 million worth of ammunition sales to the US military and police, including crowd control ammunition, CS hand grenades, and tear gas. The USA is the second biggest buyer of UK arms in the world. 

UK licensing rules prohibit arms exports where there is a clear risk they might be used in internal repression.

Yet the UK has licensed tear gas to Hong Kong, which used UK-made tear gas against protesters in violent crackdowns in 2014 and 2019; to Egypt, where UK tear gas was used against protesters in Egypt’s Tahrir Square in 2011, aiding a bloody crackdown which killed over 800 people. It has been sold to Greece, where tear gas has been used against refugees, and to France, where tear gas was used against Black Lives Matter protesters in Paris. 

The UK doesn’t just license the sale of weaponry. It actively promotes the sale of crowd control equipment – and with it, the militarisation of policing – through multi-million pound arms fairs like the Defence and Security Equipment International. 

What can I do?

Call on the UK Government to end the licensing of arms to the US. 

The UK government should not be licensing this equipment, and increasing the militarisation of policing, anywhere. Right now, the public outcry against what is happening in the US gives us a window of opportunity to put pressure on. 

Call on the Government to cancel these licences and send a clear message against US state violence and racial injustice. 

Email your MP to stop arming the US now.

Use this moment to speak out against racism here too.

While the UK government can revoke arms export licences to send the US Government a message, it certainly does not have any moral high ground on the issues of state violence and racism. As we demand an end to the licensing of arms of the type used to shut down Black Lives Matter protests, and justice for George Floyd’s family, we must also recognise the need to address our own racism problem in the UK. 

For countless decades, black people have been fighting for an end to the deeply entrenched racial discrimination and inequality affecting the lives of black people and people of colour in the UK, rooted in our colonial past. From police violence, poorer health or education outcomes, to the inaction over the lives lost at Grenfell, or the focus of immigration detention and deportation policies on people of colour. As journalist Afua Hirsh puts it, the racism that killed George Floyd was built in Britain.

As well as the continued demands for justice of the people living the experience of racism every day, research from the Race Disparity Audit, the Lammy Review, the Equality Commission, and the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Racism, E. Tendayi Achiume, all points to the same persistent exclusion and marginalisation of racial and ethnic minorities.

Find out more

The UK needs deep, structural change if we are to see true equality. And this begins with white people educating themselves and stepping up. If you are a white person wanting to find out more, or share information with other white people, here are a few places you could start. 

Learn more about state violence

Stand in solidarity

Take action

War in Yemen – made in Europe

Stop Arming Saudi Arabia
Photo by Alisdare Hickson

At a time when millions of people across the world are concerned about food supplies and the ability of our health systems to respond to crisis, we must keep up the pressure for peace in Yemen, a country whose fragile health system has been devastated by five years of war.

This is a war supported by the UK government, with UK-based arms companies profiting from the destruction. Now more than ever, it is time for peace.

At the time of writing in early April, there are new reports of Saudi forces declaring a two week ceasefire. This is the second ceasefire to be reported in as many weeks – but we still have to still hope this one holds and is taken up by other parties to the conflict. The UK and other arms dealing governments can play their part by finally ending their arms sales and support for the continuing bombardment.

Continue reading “War in Yemen – made in Europe”

Questions for BAE

Weapons manufacturer BAE Systems holds its Annual General Meeting today, but it’s not taking questions from shareholders.

We understand why it would want to hide from scrutiny: this is a company with plenty to be ashamed of. But as it continues to profit from violence around the world, we still have #QuestionsforBAE

A line of people hold placards in front of BAE Systems background
Continue reading “Questions for BAE”

Coronavirus and the Arms Trade

We hope all CAAT’s supporters are well and keeping safe. A lot of CAAT’s work will be evolving over the coming months as we adapt to the current crisis. Staff are working remotely, local group meetings and activities are moving online, and we’re looking at how Covid-19 interlinks with our different areas of work.

Some parts of the arms trade are on hold too. The biennial arms fair at Farnborough, where weapons were due to be promoted to military buyers from around the world, has already been cancelled. But in other areas it’s important we maintain our scrutiny.

Increase in state powers and policing

From ramped up surveillance of citizens in China and Singapore to accusations of a racist, politicised response in Sri Lanka, governments globally are responding with measures that some fear could outlast the pandemic, and further harm marginalised groups. 

The UK Government’s COVID-19 Bill contains powers lasting two years which give police new rights to detain people. While this may make some feel safer, it’s a worrying move while people of colour are already subjected to disproportionate levels of detention and state violence in the UK. Read more about the new laws.

There is already evidence of ‘authoritarian leaders using the Covid-19 crisis to tighten their grip’ with the pandemic used to advance Orban’s power grab in Hungary – and the government’s control in Cambodia, while  teargas and other crowd-control equipment has been used to violently enforce controls.

Yemen 

As yet there are no confirmed cases of Covid-19 within Yemen, but five long years of catastrophic war have destroyed its healthcare system. Ahmed Aidarous, 36, a resident of the southwestern city of Taiz, told the Middle East Eye, “Advanced countries like America are unable to fight coronavirus so Yemen will be an easy victim for corona as there is no good health system or good leadership that can help.”

The Saudi-backed Yemeni government has closed schools and cancelled all flights, which had only just resumed for people who needed to leave the country to access healthcare abroad. Mwatana for Human Rights reports that at least 45 people had already lost their lives waiting for promised humanitarian flights to access healthcare.

We took action this month to mark five years of war in Yemen, and stand together in solidarity and resistance. While coronavirus means there is a risk that the  war is forgotten, it’s as important as ever that we keep up the pressure for peace and end UK arms sales.  

Borders

Protestors hold a banner saying 'Borders kill' at a demo outside the Home Office, February 2020
Activists protest the Home Office and its Hostile Environment policies, February 2020.

The first case of Covid-19 has been diagnosed at Yarl’s Wood, the immigration detention Centre in Bedford which holds survivors of torture and sexual violence, and where racist verbal, physical and sexual abuse have been reported. Already experiencing high levels of mental distress and self harm, now detainees face the risk of infection by Covid-19.

The Centre is run by the world’s 73rd largest arms company Serco Group, who work closely with the UK military sector, winning £92m of Ministry of Defence contracts in 2018. A legal case related to the health crisis forced the Government to release 300 detainees recently, but thousands remain detained across the UK. There have been over 30 deaths reported in UK immigration centres, and thousands of attempted suicides.

CAAT is developing its thinking around UK borders policy, as the Government’s ‘hostile environment’ immigration strategy is part of a wider racist, state sponsored violence that keeps weapons flowing to countries where they predominantly harm people of colour.

It is also some of the same arms companies profiting from weapons sales causing many to flee their homes which profit again when they win lucrative contracts to provide security services and surveillance technologies at increasingly militarised borders. Find out more about the companies profiting twice. 

Arms to ventilators?

 In these turbulent and challenging times we will be looking for hope too – that in future when governments tell us things can’t change, we know that change can come almost overnight when the political will is there. 

Rolls Royce, who produce military aircraft engines, and aerospace companies like Airbus which profit from the sale of fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, have been called on by the UK government to help produce components for ventilators in the fight against coronavirus. The case for moving our engineering skills from industries that take lives to ones that save them has never been stronger.

Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency, recently called government economic stimulus packages in response to the coronavirus crisis as “a historic opportunity” to tackle the climate emergency.  “This is a huge opportunity we cannot miss,” he said. “Here the issue is not only the level of money but the direction of the money”.

Find out more about the call to convert jobs in arms manufacturing to greener, more socially useful industries in the New Lucas Plan

A small hand sewn banner reads 'Choose people', hung at the DSEI arms fair week of action, 2019
A banner at the DSEI arms fair week of action, 2019.

Rethinking ‘security’

We can also see more than ever that our security is not advanced by wars, or by spending billions on nuclear weapons systems and aircraft carriers, but by building fairer societies that support the most vulnerable, and by investing in our public services like the NHS and social care.

Let’s work together to ensure that out of this crisis we create a Just Recovery, and build a world where real human needs, are prioritised.

Five years of war in Yemen

Today we stand in solidarity with Yemen. At a time when millions of people across the world are concerned about food supplies and the ability of our health systems to respond to crisis, Yemen must not be forgotten.

Today marks five years since a Saudi-Arabian led coalition began bombing Yemen – five years in which Yemen’s health system has “almost collapsed.”

Continue reading “Five years of war in Yemen”

Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries Who Got Away With War Crimes,

Journalist and researcher Phil Miller has just released a new book, Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries Who Got Away With War Crimes, which explores the shameful role of mercenaries in fuelling war and human rights abuses.

Profiting from war is one of the most controversial aspects of UK foreign policy. The debate normally centres on why British bombs are being sold to a belligerent ally. However, the arms industry will always defend its business on the grounds that its staff never pull the trigger, and that any subsequent casualties are therefore not its responsibility. Or as the chairman of Britain’s largest arms dealer, BAE Systems, modestly told shareholders in 2019: ‘[We] provide defence equipment that ultimately encourages peace.’

Continue reading “Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries Who Got Away With War Crimes,”